After the lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the U.S. government has embraced the observation that survival prepping is a healthy and productive national undertaking. The PrepareAthon is a government-sponsored initiative held twice a year in spring and fall. The program is designed to inspire Americans to prepare for a crisis.

The program is internet-driven and involves a call to arms for Americans across the country to take concrete steps towards hardening our families and our society against natural disasters, pandemics and terrorist attacks.

The first event was held on April 30, 2014, and involved more than five million Americans. The second is scheduled for September 30, 2014. Each National Day of Action has a theme. The spring event focused on tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and wildfires. The fall event will concern earthquakes, hazardous materials, pandemic flu and winter weather emergencies. The PrepareAthon is not about awareness, as news coverage and an umbrella government initiative called the Ready Campaign take care of that. The PrepareAthon is geared towards practical action and concrete steps that can be taken to harden our population against calamity.

Guides are available online to orient PrepareAthon activities toward a variety of venues. Individuals and families, K-12 schools, workplaces, places of worship, institutions of higher learning and community organizations are encouraged to participate.

Disaster Planning

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The Ready Campaign is built around four universal building blocks for preparedness—Be Informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit, and Get Involved. These four basic concepts will address the unique issues associated with most any serious crisis. While the Ready Campaign was designed to promote awareness, the PrepareAthon is configured for practical action directed towards mitigating the effects of a disaster, materials preparation and sheltering.

The PrepareAthon is designed to bring together disparate parts of communities to promote the interaction that is inevitably necessary to survive a crisis. The time to meet your neighbors and familiarize with relief agencies is not when you are standing in front of the slab that was once your home, wondering where you will sleep and what you will eat. The PrepareAthon is designed to make those contacts and exercise those systems in times of peace so we will all be ready when things go sideways.

The goals for this initiative are fourfold: Understand which disasters could happen in your community; know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage; take action to increase your preparedness, and; participate in community resilience planning.

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The national PrepareAthon had its genesis with the Great ShakeOut earthquake preparedness drills. This program moved millions of Americans to practice earthquake response drills and prepare the personal gear needed to facilitate survival in the face of these disasters. The PrepareAthon uses this same model while expanding its scope to other sorts of disasters.

Individuals and organizations can go online and register to become a part of this activity. While there are focus areas that are proposed for each event, organizers encourage participants to spend their efforts on whatever is best suited for an individual organization and locality.

Earthquakes are random and hurricanes have wiped American coastlines clean along the Gulf of Mexico in a cyclical fashion for as long as we have records. Add to this the very real threat of terrorist action involving weapons of mass destruction or civil unrest and crisis preparation becomes more pertinent than ever. At some point in his or her lifetime, almost every American will face a disaster situation of some sort. Participants in the PrepareAthon are encouraged to sign up online and connect with other like-minded Americans to establish relationships, coordinate efforts and share lessons learned.

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This article was originally published in SURVIVOR’S EDGE ™ Winter 2015 magazine. Print and Digital Subscriptions available here.

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